Intel Inside LTE Small Cells

U.K.-based femtocell maker Ubiquisys Ltd. has partnered with Intel Corp. (Nasdaq: INTC) to add smarts and processing power to its new range of dual-mode 3G/LTE small cells.

In a strategic partnership announced on Wednesday, Ubiquisys will incorporate Intel's Atom or Xeon processors into the new small cells, which are powered by baseband chipsets from Texas Instruments Inc. (NYSE: TXN). (See TI Muscles In on Small Cells and TI, Ubiquisys Do Small Cells.)

According to Ubiquisys CTO Will Franks, Intel brings an ecosystem of applications, powerful computing power and storage capabilities to the small cells, which are designed for outdoor or indoor public hot spots.

Why do 3G or LTE small cells need such computing power? The idea is that by processing more content and applications locally -- that is, closer to the users in the radio access network (RAN) -- that will help operators to manage data traffic on their networks.

For example, local content can be cached in the small cells with Intel's storage capability. That would reduce the amount of data that needs to be sent across the network, which should help operators save on backhaul transport costs. Ubiquisys is looking to store a minimum of 100GB of data in a small cell.

Reference designs will be available to equipment manufacturers in 2012.

Why this matters
This partnership exemplifies a new technology development aimed at helping mobile operators cope with surging data traffic on their networks, whether they are 3G operators needing capacity relief now or LTE operators looking to get the most out of their new network investments. It is also further evidence of the radical changes that are underway in RAN architectures. (See MWC 2011: The End of the RAN as We Know It? )

For more
Catch up on small cells and changes in the RAN here:

— Michelle Donegan, European Editor, Light Reading Mobile

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Pete Baldwin 12/5/2012 | 5:04:04 PM
re: Intel Inside LTE Small Cells

Yes, that's the more likely vector for mobile advertising. (The femto/home thing was something that we on this message thread just cooked up ourselves. I certainly hope nobody's thinking of that.)

They'd pretty much have to make it opt-in. People have been dreading just this application -- spam to the mobile phone -- for a very long time. There'd be a huge backlash if stores and malls started doing it unilaterally -- or so I'd hope, anyway.

atiller 12/5/2012 | 5:04:11 PM
re: Intel Inside LTE Small Cells

I haven't heard anyone seriously proposing to subject subscribers to forced advertising their personal, home femtocells - although an advertising guru once told me that the ability to target advertising at the point when someone walks through their front door is extremely valuable (pizza tonight? movie?...).  Most of the discussion around advertising is about using the femtocell to locate shoppers precisely within a store, thereby allowing more targeted offers to be sent to their phones.  Presumably this would be an opt-in service.

Michelle Donegan 12/5/2012 | 5:04:16 PM
re: Intel Inside LTE Small Cells

You got me there! your posts add to my list of follow-up questions, certainly. 

I also question whether operators want to add more complexity in their radio access networks like this -- the whole concept of deploying small cells in public hotspots is new and challenging enough on its own. Why add another layer here?


Pete Baldwin 12/5/2012 | 5:04:20 PM
re: Intel Inside LTE Small Cells

I was as horrified as Seven about the prospects of ads-on-a-femto, but if this is for commercial hotspot usage, that's a little different. I still think the world was oversaturated with ads before all this ad-based-Web fervor came about, but a quick ad in exchange for using a public hotspot isn't so bad.

Ibarrera's mention of media for bored shoppers could be an idea, too.  It would probably come in the form of infomercials, but ... I've been in shopping experiences boring enough that an infomercial could almost be welcome... only if it's not baseball season, that is.

paolo.franzoi 12/5/2012 | 5:04:20 PM
re: Intel Inside LTE Small Cells


So Michelle - Are you saying I will have a different user experience on Carrier owned cells depending on the cell that I am connected to?  From a location standpoint, that is one thing but from if I get ads from one type of connection but not another that seems odd.



ibarrera 12/5/2012 | 5:04:21 PM
re: Intel Inside LTE Small Cells

If the goal is not storing but caching to improve the user experience and minimize access to the network. I'd say yes. With services such as tvboxes, I'd assume tv programming can be cached for people to see. But of course it depends on the coverage. If the cell is supposedly feeding only one house, it can be very personalized (privacy concerns), if the cell feeds a coffee shop/shopping center: offering media for bored people (waiting for shoppers) and advertisements from local stores may be a way to go.

ibarrera 12/5/2012 | 5:04:21 PM
re: Intel Inside LTE Small Cells

I feel the same way you do. ISP's have been throwing a bunch of "ideas" on how to increase their revenue.

I imagine a real world scenario (out of the tubes) where you pay a flat rate for receiving mail to your house. You have a volume cap depending on how much you pay your delivered volume will be limited, now on top of that they include the spam, advertisement and coupons (and we all know that's a lot - and increasing by the day).

In addition to it they control what packets and when are going to be delivered and you may be penalized if you want to get too much too soon (throttle/shape). And now, they want you to buy the mailbox (an electric one/ cells) and keep it working for them. Just in case they want to use it to deliver boxes to your neighbors in case your neighbor complains for his service.

Aren't ISP great?

So yeah, at least I want the overhead to be removed from my bill, if they want to keep charging me for stuff I'm not suppose to receive.

Michelle Donegan 12/5/2012 | 5:04:22 PM
re: Intel Inside LTE Small Cells

Is a small base station the best place to store the content?

Michelle Donegan 12/5/2012 | 5:04:22 PM
re: Intel Inside LTE Small Cells

I agree with all that -- having to get adverts over the femto you had to pay for because your operator's coverage is poor does not go down well!

But these small cells would be operator deployed and managed -- deployed in public hotspots. 

Does that make it better?

ibarrera 12/5/2012 | 5:04:23 PM
re: Intel Inside LTE Small Cells

With the upcoming media streamming services, I'd say it makes sense to cache viral youtube videos, or shows from services like Hulu (perhaps even Netflix may want to enter such market). With cheap storage (at least 100G) I think Pandora may actually store a great deal of data in the same way Akamai servers are deployed (and the Ruckus service was also deployed in Universities at the time).

But certainly, If they manage to take the local data off my monthy bill, I certainly want the advertisement to go away. With the limited caps that Telcos are putting, why should customers pay for bandwidth consumed by ads (and particularly these days that everyone thinks on putting ads all over)? Just my POV.

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